Over the last week, I have been profoundly moved by the concern parish clergy and lay leaders have expressed for the physical health, emotional wellbeing and spiritual needs of their communities. I have also been inspired by our priests’ willingness to embrace non-gathered approaches to worship and ministry in order to help protect our congregation members, many of who are in high-risk groups due to age or chronic health conditions, or both. The pastoral concern expressed by our clergy has prompted the writing of this reflection, and the development of four key ways, the 4 p’s, parishioners can support their clergy – these being praying for our clergy; paying via Parish Direct; participating in online and other non-gathered ministry activities; and, practically assisting parish clergy with tasks.
We are currently entering into unchartered territory and a period of uncertainty – for both our Church and the broader community. Parish clergy have their work cut out for them as they implement alternative approaches to worship; increasingly engage with their congregations via email, phone and social media; pastorally care for vulnerable, sick and anxious parishioners; manage teams of staff and volunteers; and, care for broader community members who reach out in their time of need.
The depth of our clergy’s vocations is clear in the determination they have to step up and embrace this challenge. Historically, when global or local communities have been in crisis, such as in times of war, drought or natural disasters, both clergy and lay people have answered this missional call by caring for and protecting others. We all want to see our clergy, along with their families, empowered, sustained, encouraged and assisted, as they fulfill their unique vocational call during the months ahead.
Many others, including churchwardens, other parish leaders and some paid employees, are also vital in maintaining the life of our communities and likewise need our support. For our communities to survive and thrive through this time we need to be constant in our support for one another and, as we are able, to maintain the life of our communities.
One of the key ways that we can carry out this mission is to show care and compassion for our clergy, as they minister to us and the broader community. The PMC Team reached out to parish clergy across our three Regions over the last week to ask what parishioners can do to support them as they nurture and care for us during this difficult time. Their responses can be summed up simply via 4 p’s – prayer, Parish Direct, participation, and practical assistance. More specifically, our parish clergy and other parish leaders need us to:
- Pray that God strengthens clergy, churchwardens, other parish leaders and the communities they serve.
- Pay via Parish Direct* (or by contacting parish offices for other options) in lieu of the collection plate, so that parish life can be maintained and stipends and other wages can be sustained.
- Participate in online worship and other non-gathered ministry activities.
- Practically assist clergy and other parish leaders, where possible, by offering to volunteer, including assisting those who are elderly or unwell and need to self-isolate.
In God’s strength and grace, we can collectively navigate the challenges ahead by supporting parish clergy and other parish leaders and the communities they serve. In the future, let’s look back and be proud of the way we stepped up as a Church in solidarity with our leaders and each other.
*If you have any questions regarding Parish Direct, please email [email protected] or call (07) 3835 2355.